The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., March 23, 1951, page 7


     By request, John Baker, noted Hood River attorney and onetime district attorney, presented an article on the pioneer lawyers of Hood River county before a meeting of the Hood River county Historical Society. In his prologue, he stated: "I shall adhere to the truth as closely as I can for one of my profession. However, the 'naked' truth never appeals to me unless it is dressed in a Mother Hubbard, to say the least." His article is published in this and succeeding issues of the Hood River News as follows:

     "When I arrived in July, 1910, the following lawyers were regularly established in the practice of law in Hood River: A.A. Jayne, John Leland Henderson, Edward H. Hartwig, Andrew J. Derby, Sam W. Stark, Ernest C. Smith, George R. Wilbur, Louis and Robert P. Reed (father and son). Joseph W. Morton and Thomas B. Kent, regularly admitted to practice, had no established office but did an open-air curbstone business. I was the twelfth lawyer.
     "Since the Reeds arrived early in 1910 (and departed soon after) … I will treat only the lawyers here in 1909 as coming within the purview of my subject.
     "Hood River County was formed by a vote of the people at the general election, June, 1908, and a complete regime of neophyte officers was appointed by Governor Chamberlain to set in motion the county machinery. This seems to have been accomplished in record time.
     "The first deed was filed at 1:30 p.m. June 30, 1908: Nancy A. Monroe, grantor, to H. Schultz, grantee, conveying 5 acres in section 11, township 2 north, range 10 east. H.T. DeWitt was the notary taking the acknowledgment.
     "From June 30 to December 31 there were twelve cases filed in circuit court, of which four were for divorce in the order of their filing by attorneys Hartwig, Anderson, Jayne and Derby. In each case the husband was plaintiff and, as no answers were filed, decrees were entered by default. It is assumed that each defendant was sick and tired of supporting her husband and was tickled pink to get rid of the lunk.
     "A.A. Jayne located in the town of Arlington, Gilliam county, for the practice of law in about the year 1887. He was a district attorney in 1894 through 1898 when the district comprised the counties of Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Crook and Wheeler. Hon. William L. Bradshaw was the circuit judge for the district.
     "About the year 1900 he moved to The Dalles and, after about two years' practice there, he moved to Hood River where he was elected to the lower house of the legislature. He served one term and declined to run for re-election. From then on he applied himself strictly to the practice of law until he sold his office and home to Ernest C. Smith in October of 1911. He moved to Merced, Cal., where he practiced about two years, then moved to New Mexico, then to southern California where he died about 1935, at the approximate age of 75 years.
     "He was an able lawyer and had the respect of the whole community as well as the respect of his clients. He was the second lawyer to locate permanently in Hood River. He filed the first case in the circuit court of the new county and was attorney for the defendant in the Robbins murder trial.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., April 13, 1951, page 7


(Ed. Note: This is the second in a series of articles on pioneer lawyers of Hood River county, written by John Baker, former of Hood River county district attorney, for presentation at a meeting of the Hood River county Historical society).

     Edward H. Hartwig was born in Wisconsin in 1874 of German parentage. He was educated in the public schools of that state and at Valpariso (Ind.) normal school.
     About the year 1896 he turned up in Hood River valley and taught several terms of school "out in the sticks." He then went to Goldendale, Wn., and read law in the office of Brooks and Brooks for about two years. He was admitted to practice in 1900 and immediately came back to Hood River where he opened an office.
     His was a life of hard work -- no fun, no vacations, nothing but hard work from 7 a.m. until way into the night. Later in life he became paralyzed and, after several years of intense suffering, he was, on the first day of February, 1944, relieved by death.
     Ernest C. Smith was born in Iowa in the year 1877. He was educated in the public school of Quimby, high school at Cherokee, Iowa, State Teachers college at Cedar Falls, Iowa, and the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
     Early in the year 1909 he came to Hood River and opened a law office. In October of 1911 he purchased the home and office of A.A. Jayne and, by hard work and strict attention to business, he soon build up a lucrative practice, which he held until his retirement in 1944.
     Mr. Smith was soon recognized throughout the mid-Columbia district as an able trial lawyer and was connected as attorney for defendant or plaintiff in most of the important cases arising in the county. He was true to the traditions of his profession and was never guilty of imposing on any court a proposition he did not believed to be true.
     He never took many vacations. He did not have time, for that would have entailed the neglect of some of his clients and he could not stand for that.
     At the May primary in 1930 he was nominated without opposition by the republican party as its candidate for the general assembly of the state and was elected at the November election by an over-whelming vote. He served one term of 60 days with distinction and decided he had enough, so declined to run for the-election.
     For 28 successive years he served the city of Hood River as its attorney. He became recognized as one of the ablest city attorneys in Oregon.
     After faithfully serving the people of the county for 35 years, his health broke and he was obliged to retire from active practice. Since then, he and his good wife have shuttled back and forth with the robins: California for winter and dear old Hood River for summer.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., April 20, 1951, page 3


(Ed. Note: This is the third and a series of articles by John Baker, noted Hood River attorney, on the pioneer lawyers of Hood River county.)

     George R. Wilbur was born in Dixon county, Nebr., in March of 1879, was educated in the schools of his native county, University of Nebraska and in law at the University of Michigan. In 1907 he was elected county attorney of his home county and held that office for one term of two years. Declining to run again, he came to Hood River late in the year 1909 and soon was established in practice here.
     He was a veteran of both the Spanish-American war and World War I by enlistment. He served as a captain through WWI and returned home in January of 1919.
     Captain Wilbur served one term with distinction as state senator for the 16th senatorial district, comprising Wasco and Hood River counties. He was prominently mentioned from time to time as a democrat candidate for governor.
     From the time of his return in 1919 to 1933, when he was appointed general attorney for the reconstruction finance corporation in Portland, he enjoyed a lucrative practice here.
     His greatest achievement was in the lone-handed defense of the East Fork Irrigation district against the power companies, winning every decision from our circuit court to the U.S. supreme court.
     About two years ago, because of failing health, he resigned from RFC and purchased a winter home at Laguna Beach, Calif. His health is improving and he and his good wife shuttle back and forth with the season from their home in Portland to their home in Laguna Beach. What a life!
     Andrew Jackson Derby was born in Alabama in the year 1875. Of his early life little is known. However, he was to the manner born a true southern gentleman, jealous of his honor and that of the south.
     About the year of 1900 he came to Portland and for two years was employed as secretary in the law office of J.C. Stearns. Later he became one of the court reporters in the circuit court for Multnomah county -- and a very prominent one, too. He was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1904 and a year later opened an office for practice of law in Hood River.
     When Hood River County was formed in June, 1908, he was appointed its first county judge by Governor Chamberlain. He served to the next general election, when he was succeeded by a republican.
     He served four years as city attorney of Hood River and was appointed district attorney in 1914, when each county was awarded its own attorney. He was elected to that office at the general election, November, 1916, and served a full term of four years.
     He served as attorney for the First National bank from the date of its opening in Hood River to the time of his death, October 27, 1937.
     He was a man of genteel demeanor, a good lawyer and he lived up to the traditions of his honorable profession. He was honest and respected. He died as he had lived. What more can be said of any of us?

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., April 27, 1951, page 4


(Ed. Note: This is another of a series of articles on pioneers Hood River lawyers, written by John Baker.)

     Joseph W. Morton was born in Henry county, Iowa, in 1870 in came to Hood River with his father in 1875. He was elected to the legislature in 1898 from Wasco county and served one term. While serving in the lower house at Salem he was admitted to practice by the supreme court.
     Joe, as he was called by his many friends, was of a jolly, roving disposition and never settled down to the practice of law for any length of time in any one place. He had a flare for politics and was frequently a candidate for nomination for important offices, ranging from district attorney to U.S. Senator. While campaigning he loved to wear a top hat and Prince Albert coat. Although he failed of nomination, he had a lot of fun trying.
     He was a good citizen, reared a fine family of one son and four daughters and died in Hood River September 29, 1939.
     Thomas B. Kent was born of English parentage in Jackson county, Oregon, about the year 1840, and where he grew to manhood and resided until 1900, when he moved with his family to Hood River.
     I have been able to obtain only meager information concerning him or his family, as they left Hood River about 30 or more years ago.
     When I came to Hood River in 1910, he was not in the regular practice of law but did quite a little "curbstone" business and, on occasion, appeared in justice court. He loafed with me occasionally and several times related a partial story of his life which was, indeed, very unusual and which I now set down here as best I can from memory.
     Kent worked at farming and odd jobs. He frequently attended sessions of court and there it was he became imbued with the idea of becoming a lawyer. He read law under the tuition of H.K. Hanna, who afterwards served many years as circuit judge. He was elected district attorney for Jackson county before he was admitted to practice.
     According to his story, it seems that a murder was committed in the county and it became imperative that he be admitted to the bar in order to prosecute. He told how he rode horseback from Jacksonville to Salem and back. In Salem, he stated, the supreme court admitted him on his presentation of his certificate of election and he was sworn in "instater".
     Notwithstanding that "Judge" Kent, as he was commonly called by everyone here, was in all respects forthright, yet I carried his story over the years in the back of my mind punctuated by a question mark.
     However, it recently came to my attention that this unusual story is confirmed. Clerk Benson of the supreme court has informed me that Thomas B. Kent was admitted to practice law on January 27, 1885; state vs. Lewis O'Neil; 13 Oregon, page 183, confirms the conviction, T.B. Kent, district attorney, and W.H. Holmes for the state; H.K. Hanna and E.B. Watson for the appelldant.
     About the year 1920, Kent moved to Oswego to live with a daughter and died soon thereafter.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., May 4, 1951, page 3


(Ed. note: This is another in a series of articles on pioneer Hood River lawyers, written by John Baker.)

     John Leland Henderson was the first lawyer to locate permanently in Hood River, insofar as I have been able to determine. He was, in fact, the "daddy pioneer" of them all. He was a man of diversified abilities and occupations and energetically pursued, whether work or play, all of his undertakings. He was one of our "first" citizens. He was schoolteacher, athlete, surveyor, abstractor, lawyer, a lover of live and good-looking ladies, a swell dresser and an all-around good citizen.
     John Leland Henderson was born in Boston, Mass., September 11, 1851. His ancestors, both paternal and maternal, were of colonial stock. He received his education by use of a fine library and tutelage of his mother until he entered Jesuit college of New Orleans, La. Later he was a student in a military school in Vermont. For some time he was enrolled in Cornell university and, upon completion of his freshman year there, he took up the profession of teaching on the Pacific coast. In 1878 he came to Oregon, locating in Portland, where he engaged in surveying for one year. Then for 20 years he taught school in Eugene, the Willamette valley and Olympia, Wn.
     In 1891 he went back to Mississippi where his ancestors had lived, studied law and was admitted to practice in 1893. He practiced law and continued an abstract business there until 1896, when he returned to Portland where he followed surveying and was admitted to practice in Oregon and 1897.
     In February, 1898, he came to Hood River and established his law and abstract office. He remained active here until 1912 when he moved to Tillamook where he remained to the time of his death in 1937.
     When I located in Hood River there were many stories afloat, touching his idiosyncrasies and prowess, more especially relating to his aquatic stunts and surveying. Some of the stories were really good and bare re-telling, although I do not vouch for the truth of any of them.
     And there was an authentic story afloat about the discovery of gold in 1898 on the sand bar of the Columbia, fronting the city of Hood River. It happened, so the story went, that the discovery was made coincident with the start of the spring of freshet. In some mysterious way common to gold stories, it leaked through to Portland that John Leland Henderson, the surveyor, was staking out claims for prospective millionaires. As the story had it he, with his chain carrier, was busy staking claims until the rising waters submerged him to his neck. It was said, further, that he used a rope for a chain and took his bearings from the brick chimney atop the hotel at Underwood.
     Henderson was, in fact, a master surveyor. He surveyed (laid out) nearly all of the early additions to the city of Hood River and our city "engineers" all agree that he did a good job.
     As an all-around athlete he had few equals. As an aquatic athlete he had no equals. In June, 1898, he swam the Columbia river from The Dalles to Hood River, never missing a stroke, except that, as he swam past Memaloose island, he saluted Victor Trevitt, the white man buried there, with his right hand and the spirit of Chief Memaloose with his left hand.
     It was told, too, that he frequently swam a round trip across the Columbia in place of taking a shower.
     All jesting aside, Henderson was in many ways a remarkable man. Moreover, he was a proud man. He dressed in the habiliments of the that he switched from cap and lawyers in Blackstone's time, except that he switched from cap and gown to plug hat and Prince Albert coat, which he always wore on public occasions and never appeared in court without them. His Shakespearean head and elegant address made him a favorite lady's man. The amenities of society were to him an open book. He enjoyed life to the full. What a man!
     About the year 1912 he removed to Tillamook where he established his law office and abstract business. He also acquired a ranch about seven miles from that city. For exercise he frequently walked to his ranch in the morning, did a full day's work and walked all the way back in the evening.
     As the years increased his activities correspondingly decreased and he spent much of his time fishing in the trout-laden creeks. He loved the forest, its streams and wildlife. One day in June, 1937, he failed to return from his tryst with the woods and next morning was found sitting on the bank of Trout creek, reclining against a tree, his feet dangling in the water of the stream, his fishing rod by his side and a smile on his face. He had answered the call of his Maker. "Death, kind Nature's signal of retreat."

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., May 11, 1951, page 8


(Ed. note: This is another in a series of articles on a pioneer Hood River lawyers, written by John Baker.)

     Sam W. Stark was born in the foothills of Wasco county, back of Mosier, about the year 1880. His father was an itinerant preacher who mistook the call to ditch for the call to preach. Of Sam's early life but little is known. He first started out as a bronc buster but his first unwilling mount bucked him to the ground, from which he emerged with a splintered pelvis and a wabbling walk the remainder of his life. However, conversely, this wabbly walk turned into an asset instead of a liability for Sam.
     At about the age of 22, Sam turned up at The Dalles -- of sturdy build, six feet tall, pleasing presence, a hearty laugh and that wabble his main asset. He soon succeeded in insulating himself into the favor of Judge A.S. Bennett and Circuit Judge W.L. Bradshaw and became their chore boy. It was not long before Stark became possessed with a burning desire to be admitted to the bar. Notwithstanding his murdering of shirtsleeve English and the crucifixion of simplified spelling, induced the judges to recommend his admittance on condition that he would never attempt to practice in circuit court. Armed with credentials from them, he applied for admission at the next session of supreme court at Pendleton.
     The court, as was its custom before applicants were required to take a written examination, appointed its clerk to retire to the library with the applicant for immediate examination as to his fitness for admission. The clerk pronounced one sentence only: "Mr. Stark, what is the law?"
     Stark replied: "How can I know what the law is when the supreme court is in there guessing at it right now?"
     After a few minutes face-saving delay, the clerked reported as follows:
     "May it please the court: I have given the applicant a rigid examination and he answered correctly all the questions I put to him excepting one and I recommend his admission." Stark was sworn in at once.
     It was not long before Sam was walking with his head in the clouds and his feet and the footprints of Blackstone. Soon he had budded into full bloom as a practicing lawyer in The Dalles to the great chagrin of his mentors. In going about soliciting business he had no hesitancy in advertising in a loud, sonorous voice who his backers were and soon he had a lot of clients. But, since he knew of no law, he employed one in Dufur, a lawyer in Portland, to prepare all his pleadings for him.
     Sam acquired one trait that remotely qualified him as a lawyer -- he knew how to charge. He soon laid by a small pot of several hundred dollars and, finding the climate to hot, moved to Hood River.
     In the year 1909, Stark located in Hood River, renting an office of three rooms in the Elliott building, and stocked a library of several hundred volumes, purchased on a small down payment. Through employing his method of soliciting, he soon succeeded in attaching his name as attorney for plaintiff or defendant to about 50 per cent of all cases filed in our court.
     About the year of 1915, Stark sold a half interest in his practice and library to a young lawyer, fresh from Harvard for $1800 "cash in hand." Several months later the publishing company took the library away and the recently-formed law firm was instantly dissolved. In the meantime, his father had died and his wife deserted him.
     Discouraged, Stark left the country, locating in Clackamas county where he set up shop in a gas station and a year later was elected justice of the peace. He died two years thereafter.
     In retrospect, I can truthfully say that Sam Stark was not intentionally bad at heart. He was generous to a fault and would give his last cent to anyone in need. Like most of us, his ambition and judgment were too widely spread apart. Nature endowed him with the "looks" of a lawyer but robed him of concrete reasoning power.
     Beneath the green sword of Mother Earth he sleepeth well. His shortcomings we write upon the sands to be blotted out by the gentle raindrops descending from the heavens.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., May 25, 1951, page 8


(Ed note: The following article on John H. Cradlebaugh was written by Fred W. Wilson, ex-circuit judge, for John Baker in the latter's report before the Hood River County Historical society on pioneer lawyers of this county.)

     In enumerating the lawyers of Hood River at the organization of the county there arises a question of whether the name of John H. Cradlebaugh should be included. From a basic standpoint it is proper that it should be for he was regularly admitted in 1888 to practice at the bar in Oregon.
     However, he never opened a law office and gave his attention to journalistic and literary activities. His legal status was recognized, however, when, in 1896, the democratic party nominated him for district attorney in the seventh judicial district at that time including the counties of Wasco (Hood River), Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler and Crook. The republicans nominated A.A. Jayne.
     Cradlebaugh did not make any active campaign but let things come and go as was his usual wont and Jayne was elected. However, aside from the legal situation, in any history of Hood River county the name of John H. Cradlebaugh deserves prominence.
     He began his local career as an editor of the Wasco Sun at The Dalles then came to Hood River and for several years was editor of the Hood River Glacier, making that paper well-known throughout the state. Returning to The Dalles, he was editor of The Dalles Chronicle for a lengthy period and then became one of the editors of the Capital Journal at Salem, when he closed his life.
     From what can be learned from those who knew him, it clearly appears that Cradlebaugh was a man of unusual talent along literary lines. His editorials were frequently recognized by the Oregonian and other leading papers. He also had a fine sense of humor and, in addition to his other gifts, he could and did write some poems of questioned merit and beauty. These have been collected and published in book form. He had a genial disposition, was an entertaining talker and had many friends.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., June 22, 1951, page 8


(Ed note: This is another in a series of articles on a pioneer Hood River lawyers, written by John Baker.)

     A history of the pioneer lawyers of Hood River county would be incomplete, indeed, without a biographical sketch of one of the most virile, outstanding and most beloved lawyers who ever practiced his profession in the 7th judicial district of the state of Oregon in the person of the Hon. Judge Fred W. Wilson of The Dalles.
     He was born in College Hill, O., in 1872, the son of Joseph G. and Elizabeth Wilson. His father, having been elected to congress, died in Washington, D.C., and he was only nine months old when he returned to The Dalles with his mother.
     He received his education at the Wasco independent academy, Whitman College and Johns Hopkins university at Baltimore, Md., from which he graduated in 1893.
     Returning to The Dalles, he served for a time as purser on the Regulator line on the Columbia river and then was editor of The Dalles Chronicle for 18 months.
     For several years he had been studying law and in 1896 he passed the Oregon state bar examination and was admitted to practice.
     In 1900 he formed a law partnership with Frank Menefee which continued until 1908, when he was elected district attorney, the district consisting of Wasco, Crook and Hood River counties. He served the district faithfully and well but, because of his increasing law practice, he declined to run for a second term.
     On the death of Judge William L. Bradshaw in 1917, he was appointed circuit judge by Gov. Withycombe, who acceded to a petition signed unanimously by all the lawyers of both Wasco and Hood River counties.
     During his service as circuit judge, from the date of his appointment June 23, 1917, to his retirement November 1, 1948, he became noted throughout the state for his honesty, fairness, integrity and ability.
     Insofar as I am able to determine, he is the only surviving lawyer of all those practicing in the 7th judicial district at the time of his admission to practice.
     Long may he live to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., July 27, 1951, section 2, page 7


(Ed note: Attorney John Baker has completed his articles on the early-day barristers in Hood River when he arrived. Included on the list of men whose lives have been related in previous issues of the Hood River News are Attorneys Kent, Morton, Derby, Wilbur, Smith, Hartwig, Jayne, Stark, Henderson, Cradlebaugh, and Judge Fred Wilson of this judicial district. All is at an end, except for the life of the writer and, from his notes for the Hood River County Historical society, the following autobiography sketch has been made.)

     John Baker was born in Ashland county, Ohio, March 1, 1864. His parents moved to the Black Swamp in Hacock county, O., in 1867, and his father died when he was at the age of 11, leading a widow and eight children.
     Like most families in the swamp land, the Baker family was "poorer than Job's turkey." In passing over the hardships of such life, Baker has said: "We lived through it. Not one of the skids got beyond the McGuffey Fourth Reader in school and not one us ever got in jail."
     He was appointed deputy sheriff at the age of 22, holding the position only by learning how to write at night school. He continued night courses and was elected county recorder three years later. After finishing the term of office he went to normal school and Ohio state university law school as a special student. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in June of 1893 and practiced law for 17 years at Findlay, O., before moving to Hood River in July of 1910.
     John Baker built a distinguished career in Hood River county as district attorney for 20 years, commencing in 1921. For the past ten years he has continued to practice, though at a reduced pace these post-war years.
     But at the grand old age of 87 he is the oldest member of the bar practicing in the state of Oregon and certainly one of the oldest in the nation. Full of wit, with a mind as active as one half as old, he is enjoying the full life that many aspire to but few attain.
     Writing, which has long been one of his hobbies, has occupied his attention lately and he is at present composing a volume or so of memoirs. One can be sure it will contain an interesting biography, full of anecdotes and sketches, while fringed with a subtle wit and an enjoyment of life that 87 years have not to dulled.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer